8 announce candidacies for 1st District seat vacated by Bruce Braley

Zoë Woods

Nov. 4 of next year is a significant date for all Iowans living in the 1st Congressional District.

Rep. Bruce Braley will be vacating his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a position he has had since 2007.

Braley, D-Iowa, is stepping down in order to seize the opportunity to run for a U.S. Senate seat left open by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who is retiring after 30 years of service.

In the early stages of the primary for the 1st District, five Democrats and three Republicans are in the race.

On the Democratic side, Dave O’Brien, Pat Murphy, Monica Vernon, Swati Dandekar and Anesa Kajtazovic are running for the seat.

On the Republican side are Rod Blum, Steve Rathje and Jason Welch.

Braley said he believes it will be a good race. Being a Democrat himself, he said he has high hopes a Democrat will fill his seat.

“I think there are a lot of great candidates,” Braley said. “The voters of Iowa’s 1st District, the Democratic primary voters, are going to get a chance to hear each one of them, make their case on why the can be the best representative and fill my seat when I leave.”

For this article, two of the eight candidates were available for comment.

Dandekar, of Marion, Iowa, said she has the desire to run for office because she wants every child to have the same kind of opportunities she had and gain a good education.

“When you have excellence in education, you have excellence in [the] economy, because great education creates great jobs, and then we as a country are very, very successful,” Dandekar said.

Dandekar said she has always worked tirelessly with the citizens of her district. She plans on doing the same if elected to the House, she said. 

“When I do all [of] the right things, I will be at the top,” Dandekar said.

Dandekar is not the only candidate feeling optimistic about the race for the first congressional district seat.

Vernon, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said she feels like she can get things done in Congress by brining what she likes to call a “three-legged stool” to the race: government service, community service and market research know-how.

“I think what I have is the ability to pull people together, solve problems and get stuff done,” Vernon said.

Vernon said that if elected to office, she will go in with democratic values, believing strongly in civil rights and human rights, as well as access to health care, education, jobs and the economy.

Finally, she plans on bringing a comprehensive immigration plan and plans regarding the environment and sustainability with her if she were to win the election.

“I feel passionate about making a difference for the people of Iowa, and I just feel passionate about all of the possibilities for Iowa,” Vernon said.

Braley said he has faith that the voters will “elect the candidate that they think would have the best opportunity to represent their values in congress.”